Four companies are working together in the Esprit supported project HIPOCRAT to develop a miniature low power hybrid circuit devoted to human implantable cardiac prostheses such as pacemakers and defibrillators. The overall aim is to design a family of three integrated circuits (ASICs) using technologies based on submicronic mixed Analog/Digital CMOS and high voltage protection processes. The new hybrid circuit is intended to be half size and three times less consuming than its predecessors. Since this kind of prostheses is lasting longer, the cost savings for health care systems are considerable.
The Human Implantable Prosthesis Offering Cardiac Rhythm Assistance Therapy is coordinated by ELA Medical, a cardiac prostheses manufacturer from Synthelabo pharmaceutical group. Based on the design kits and libraries adapted by the two semiconductors' suppliers SGS-Thomson and Austria Mikro Systeme (AMS), ELA Medical is developing three ASICs and a substrate encompassing the packaged dies and external components required. The software design company Syndesis will define and implement test fixtures in digital parts to create a complete functional simulation environment.
The collaboration between the four partners will eventually result in the realisation of a low voltage digital micro-controller and a low power mixed analog/digital circuit to perform all the basic functions in the field of cardiac prostheses including the functions related to sensors signal processing as well. The third element will constitute a high voltage protection circuit to interface the prosthesis and the patient whereas a high density hybrid circuit will support the different components and the dies reported with a new space saving mounting process called Chip Scale Plastic Packaging (CSPP).
A specific innovation embedded in the circuit enables the implementation of two new pacemaker therapies, namely both atrial and ventricular resynchronisations. These approaches are respectively proposed for largely spread diseases as atrial rhythm disorders and end stage heart failure. Therefore, in the near future, the circuitry project will replace all the previously applied electronics in the five years following the launch of the first HIPOCRAT based prostheses.